The Community Care survey reveals a depressing, but not surprising, picture of rising ‘thresholds’ for child protection social work.
Eighty percent of 600 social care professionals surveyed by
the magazine said that they had seen child protection ‘thresholds’ raise during
the last year. This was particularly marked for neglect. Respondents attributed
the rise to high vacancy rates (40+%), lack of social workers (60%), budget
cuts (70+%) and increased referrals (just under 80%).
Spokespeople from the British Association of Social Workers
and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services have made sensible
statements in reaction to these figures. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24999826
The figures are indicative of a squeeze on services – more demand and less supply. In my view the
Government does not have a credible response to this situation. The idea that Frontline (see - http://chrismillsblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/frontline-is-unconvincing.html)
will solve the supply problem is fanciful – even a fantasy – and there is no
clear guidance on how local authorities are supposed to respond to persistently
increased demand for services in the absence of more resources.
People at local level – often ‘coal face’ staff – are being
asked to take the strain. They are being expected to work more effectively with
reduced resources. In short, they are being asked to square circles.
Systems should be able ‘flex’ to some extent to cope with
fluctuations in demand, but, like balloons, there comes a point when even a
rubbery envelope can no longer sustain the increase in pressure.
It is difficult not to conclude that the result will be